Poster: Farm to Family: Providing Access to Subsidized CSA Shares in a Head Start Setting


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Poster Title: Farm to Family: Providing Access to Subsidized CSA Shares in a Head Start Setting
Organization: Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures

Contact info: Cathy Wirth (,

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Poster: Farm to Family: Providing Access to Subsidized CSA Shares in a Head Start Setting

  1. 1. Farm to Family: Providing Access to Subsidized CSA Shares in a Head Start Setting Catherine Wirth, MS 1, Jessica Hoffman, Ganiyat Adeduntan, DNP, PhD1, FNP-BC1, Carmen Castaneda-Sceppa MD, PhD 1, Brandy Brooks, MPA2, Sonia Carter, MS3 1Northeastern University, 2The Food Project, 3Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Inc. Head StartIntroduction Methods Results (cont.) Farm to School programs have become an important component of  Participation Tracking: Sign-ups, drop-outs, and weekly pick-ups tracked for all Table 3. Head Start Parent Perceptions of the F2F Program (N = 14) childhood obesity prevention efforts in school settings. The majority participating Head Start parents and staff from July-November 2011. Agree or Neither Disagree or of Farm to School initiatives target grades K-12, but there is a  Open-ended Interviews: Conducted with 3 site coordinators from Head Start Strongly Agree nor Strongly growing Farm to Preschool movement that aims to address and 3 farming and outreach staff from The Food Project. Agree (%) Disagree (%) Disagree (%) dramatic increases in obesity among preschool-age children and  Parent Surveys: Pre-/post-surveys on family health behaviors and program The fruits and vegetables were fresh and extend the reach of the Farm to School movement. perceptions administered via phone in English and Spanish. high quality. 100 0 0 Farm to Family (F2F) is an innovative Farm to Preschool program My child/children enjoyed the fruits and 93 0 7 designed to make local produce easily accessible and affordable to Results vegetables. low-income families at Head Start centers in Boston, MA. I was pleased with the amount of food I Table 1. Head Start Parent and Staff Participation Rates in the F2F Program received most weeks. 79 14 7 Head Start is an important venue for childhood obesity prevention; it is the nation’s largest federally funded education program for Parents Staff I used all of the fruits and vegetables I received most weeks. 93 0 7 preschool-age children and reaches a population of young children I was happy with the types of fruits and most vulnerable to childhood obesity. Overall Participation 42 (12% of parents at 4 45 (49% of staff at 4 79 21 0 vegetables I received. Approximately 40% of Head Start children in Boston are overweight Head Start sites) Head Start sites) I would have liked to receive more fruits and or obese (S. Carter, Personal Communication), compared to 21% Drop-Out Rates 52% 27% vegetables each week. 71 7 21 of preschoolers nationally (Ogden et al, 2010). Average Weekly Pick-Up 74% 97% The pick-up days and times were The purpose of this study was evaluate the implementation and convenient. 86 0 14 Rates impact of the F2F program at four Head Start centers. A mixed- The packaging of the fruits and vegetables SNAP Usage 67% 11% 93 0 7 method evaluation was conducted to examine: was appropriate.  Participation rates; Almost half of staff at participating Head Start centers joined the F2F program, The cost of fruits and vegetables was a good  Program strengths/challenges from the perspectives of farm and value. 93 7 0 compared to 12% of parents. Staff were also less likely to drop-out of the program Head Start staff; before the end of their commitment and more likely to pick up their weekly CSA share. Overall, this program has made a difference 71 14 14  Families’ perceptions of the program; and to my family’s eating behaviors.  Preliminary short-term changes in family health behaviors. Table 2. Highlights from Open-Ended Interviews with F2F Program Staff I would be willing to participate in the program again next year. 86 0 14 Head Start Site Coordinators (N=3) The Food Project Staff (N=3)Background  Staff members either strongly agreed (n  Program Strengths: Opportunity to work Most parents held very positive perceptions of the F2F program, with 86% reporting a F2F was piloted and evaluated by a group of partners that included = 2) or agreed (n = 1) that the program with community partners and to provide willingness to participate again. was important for families at their site. fresh fruit & vegetables to families The Food Project (TFP), a sustainable agriculture non-profit, Action  Program Challenges: without easy access to local produce. Summary and Conclusions for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Inc. Head Start, and  Getting parents to pick up CSA shares  Program Challenges: Farmer-consumer Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures (HKHF), an inter-institutional and make payments. disconnect regarding seasonal  F2F is an innovative Farm to Preschool strategy that enables Head Start collaborative focused on early childhood obesity prevention. Other  Replacing drop-outs in order to variability in types of produce delivered. programs to serve as a conduit between a local farm and low-income families, F2F partners were Boston Childrens Hospital, Bowdoin Street maintain participation levels. overcomes access and affordability barriers to fresh produce, and serves as a Health Center, and The Dimock Center; the distribution sites vehicle to communicate obesity prevention information. Staff from both Head Start and The Food Project shared positive feedback about the associated with these partners were not included in this evaluation.  Evaluation results revealed high levels of program satisfaction, along with F2F program, along with challenges to address in future years. F2F program components included: challenges in maintaining parent engagement.  Weekly subsidized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)  Efforts to increase pick-up rates and reduce drop-out rates among parents would shares offered to Head Start parents and staff and delivered increase program efficacy and improve the program experience for Head Start directly to Head Start centers every Tuesday afternoon. and farm staff.  Participants received $15.00 of produce each week for $5.00,  Program partners utilized these evaluation results as part of a collaborative and could pay with cash, check or Supplemental Nutrition planning process to modify and strengthen F2F in its second year. Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.  Weekly bi-lingual farm newsletters with recipes, bi-lingual Acknowledgments nutrition education materials, and farm trips.  We are grateful to the families that participated in F2F and the staff from Head Program pilot took place from July-November 2011. Start, The Food Project and other partners that made the F2F program possible. 87 Head Start parents and staff participated across the four Head From left to right: Farmer delivering produce to Head Start staff member, parent picking  HKHF is funded by Northeastern University and Boston Children’s Hospital. Start sites that were part of the evaluation. up her CSA share, child participating in farm trip.